In the sentence:

(A) "I know John because in the middle of the desert he rescued me"

"because in the middle of the desert he rescued me" is a dependent clause. Should there be a comma after "desert"?

If we were to take the string "in the middle of the desert he rescued me", it is itself a sentence, and, in that case, there should be a comma after "desert".

However, should there be a comma when it is used in (A)?

  • I'd say the sentence (A) sounds clumsy with or without commas. I'd use "I feel indebted to John because[,] when my car broke down in the middle of the desert, he rescued me." Some may not like the one-comma version, but I'd pause for breath there if reading it out. // This is not a petty niggle, because individual examples may well have non-general best answers. Can you think of a better example? – Edwin Ashworth Feb 16 '18 at 19:51
  • @EdwinAshworth "some may say that in this world there is no such thing as a good person". Should there be "," around "in this world"? – thang Feb 17 '18 at 1:38
  • Yes, I think this is a more appropriate example. The modern trend is towards minimalising punctuation where clarity / ease of reading is not affected. So it might look / sound more natural without the commas. But if you like the pauses around the prepositional phrase (for effect, say – perhaps to suggest contrast with the afterlife), you're perfectly entitled to add the commas. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 17 '18 at 11:48

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